Cinderhill Farm- The story so far
Gloucestershire and its surrounding counties are arguably unrivalled in the quality and abundance of their food produce. Farming is at the very heart of Gloucestershire life and here at Gloucester Services we are only too aware of how sustainable local retailing can be a powerful economic force in supporting the rural economy and how local sourcing on such a large scale as we see here at Gloucester Services will have genuine and measurable results for the county.
We're proud to work with the very best producers in Gloucestershire and our greatest opportunity is to be able to bring these local products to a wide audience, travelling the M5. One of our suppliers who have felt the benefit of reaching this new audience are Cinderhill Farm. We caught up with Deborah and Neil Flint to hear about their story so far.
Four years ago, leaving behind their jobs in Fundraising and IT, Deborah and Neil Flint decided to start a new adventure in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. Cinderhill Farm, named due to the ash black soil around the farm, has been flourishing ever since.
Having never farmed before, Deborah and Neil took a short course before they embraced the rural lifestyle. Both had an enthusiasm for the great outdoors and say they wouldn't swap their new lifestyle for anything.
The land had not been a working farm for several years when Deborah and Neil took over and the couple worked hard to restore the land to its former use, installing water harvesting systems and other eco measures to sustain the running of the farm.
The couple are dedicated to keeping traditional native breeds including black welsh mountain sheep and saddleback pigs. Lady Penelope, the Queen of Cinderhill Farm is just one of Cinderhill Farm's beloved saddlebacks. The breed was chosen by Deborah and Neil due to their hardy nature, eccentric characters and the fact they are excellent breeders.
After 2 years of adjusting to the realities of farming, Neil and Deborah realised they would need other means of income. In February 2013, Deborah began to produce pies in their farm kitchen, initially with limited success. Deborah recalls selling their first batch of pies door to door around the local community.
However interest began to increase when Deborah headed down to Coleford Country Market with a crate of pies and sausage rolls. The tasty treats were extremely well received and email orders from locals soon started flooding in. Within six weeks, the production unit for pies and sausage rolls was moved out of their domestic kitchen into the ‘Pie House', one of the outbuildings on the farm. Word quickly spread about the products and the ‘Pie House' has since been through two upgrades.
The most recent upgrade took place soon after we began stocking the produce at Gloucester Services in May 2014. Deborah and Neil attended one of our ‘Meet the Buyer Days'. The event offered local supplier and producers an audience with our Gloucester Services buyers. Deborah remembers that it was ‘love at first bite' for the buyers at the event!
Deborah explains "We've been working with Gloucester Services from the start, and the impact the partnership has had on our business has been huge. We've been able to expand into new premises and take on new staff. The business is growing and Gloucester Services have really helped us along the way.”
Just like their success, their products have also grown in recent years. The farm now produces 2000 rolls and pies every week from their pie house. Their most popular product is the Forest Ridgeback wild boar sausage roll, a bestseller here at Gloucester Services. Cinderhill Farm do not kill any boars themselves but source their wild boar through their butcher who uses experienced and licensed hunters.
Deborah says "Sustainability in the boar stock of the forest is essential for our business as well as being one of the delights and pleasures to witness in forest life.”
At Gloucester Services we think the most important thing about our business is that we are rooted in our place. We know that our success lies in the relationships and partnerships we build within Gloucestershire. We're proud to work with suppliers like Cinderhill Farm and look forward to working with them for many years to come.